For most people alive today, the electric car has gone from future concept to an expensive novelty purchase, to the future of the industry, all within the space of their lifetime.
Whilst we might not have the flying cars that early sci-fi expected of us by now, electric cars are certainly the next best thing and carry huge environmental and economic boosts for the future. However, for all the obvious benefits, electric vehicles (EVs), both full battery and hybrid models, make up only 2% of the global car market.
So, what’s the deal? When will electric cars truly take over the market?
The Benefits of EVs
First, it’s worth noting the main advantages electric cars bring to the table, and why, according to Go Ultra Low, they’re projected to take over the auto industry:
- Cheaper running costs: The cost of electricity against petrol or diesel is significantly cheaper, with an electric car costing approximately a third of what a traditional car would to run.
- Cheaper maintenance: While petrol and diesel engines are incredibly complex machines that demand costly attention, an electric motor only consists of three main parts (charger, inverter and motor), meaning maintenance costs are likely to be negligible against those of a normal car.
- Environmental benefits: In a world becoming ever more focused on climate change, pure electric cars have no tailpipe emissions, whilst plug-in hybrids offer significantly lower emissions than their traditional counterparts.
- Home charging: No more trips to the petrol station; you can charge your car’s battery overnight, every night.
- Grants and tax savings: Thanks to lower emissions, the government is incentivising electric purchases, offering up to £3,500 discount on cars and £8,000 on vans through grants, as well as significantly lower taxing on EVs.
Why Hasn’t It Happened Yet?
Having read such a wonderful list of benefits, it might be hard to understand why electric cars are yet to take the world by storm. There are, however, very good reasons for this:
- Government intervention: The governments of China and the US, the world’s two biggest EV markets, have both cut subsidies on EV manufacturers, meaning enforced price hikes and a drop in sales.
- A lack of competition: Despite Tesla having a 75% share of the US market, no other manufacturers seems to be able to make a car competitive enough to bite into the market. Over in China, smaller manufacturers are being targeted by the government as it looks to restructure the industry. This lack of competition negatively impacts product innovation, competitive pricing and the entire industry moving forward.
- Up front cost: Although EVs offer both cheaper running and maintenance costs, the current upfront cost (worsened by recent increases) is enough to put off potential buyers. Tesla’s Model S, for example, starts from £75,000.
- Convenience: A combination of limited range against petrol and diesel vehicles and limited access to external charging stations offers a practical issue most would rather avoid.
- Environmental conscience: As it stands, most people would either prefer or have to stick to saving cash on a traditional vehicle, despite all the obvious benefits of EVs.
Will It Happen? And When?
Whilst there are a number of negative factors linked with the EV market, they are very much a reflection of the current market and not the market of the future. As the technology involved becomes better understood, competition increases and product innovation drives forward, the economic and practical concerns that currently surround the industry will dissipate.
With that in mind, it is a matter of when electric cars take over, rather than if. JP Morgan anticipates the market having tipped in the favour of EVs by 2030, with significant moves afoot from 2025.
Over the next decade, expect to see a continued shift in the focus of manufacturers, better accessibility for customers and a gradual rise of EVs on the roads. In the meantime, the British market will continue to be dominated by used cars NI, until people feel electric vehicles offer a truly cost-effective solution.